Business

Recording Academy and Big Three Labels Commit Action in Push for Racial Equity: Exclusive

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Courtesy of The Recording Academy

"Together, we are committed to the work ahead and the partnership required to drive necessary and long overdue change in music for all underrepresented communities."

Diversity, equity and inclusion executives from the Recording Academy, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group and Warner Music Group have issued a statement underscoring their commitment to work together in ending systemic bias in the music industry.

Noting their solidarity with #TheShowMustBePaused and the progress made to date by its co-founders Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, the executives state, in part, "We share the common goal of working to ensure that the companies we represent are doing the deep work to examine systemic racism and inequity, and are taking the necessary actions to accelerate progress on representation, equity and meaningful community engagement with and for Black people and communities."

The collective statement represents the outcome of two virtual meetings held over the last several weeks between six of the industry's recently appointed DEI executives: The Recording Academy's Valeisha Butterfield Jones and A. Ryan Butler; UMG's Liliahn Majeed and Naledi Nyahuma Seck; WMG's Dr. Maurice Stinnett and SMG's Tiffany R. Warren. Butterfield Jones initiated the meetings, which will go monthly moving forward.  She tells Billboard that the next order of business will be to align on a shared agenda.

"We will be asking other companies to work with us on setting shared goals and a North Star for what we plan to do and accomplish together from a DEI perspective," explains Butterfield Jones. "It's been great meetings with great energy. Everyone is excited, on the same page and ready to work."

The DEI executives' collective statement arrives on the heels of the Recording Academy and racial justice organization Color of Change's newly released #ChangeMusic Roadmap, an industry guide on how to move beyond conversation and take action to achieve racial equity.

In her additional comments, Butterfield Jones referenced the roadmap and talking to companies about coming on board and also working in tandem with #TheShowMustBePaused, whose co-founders Agyemang and Thomas participated in the group's second meeting to discuss their call to action and ways for the industry to engage with them.

Moving forward to sustainable change, notes Butterfield Jones, means "continued unapologetic transparency and not just with data but in what we're doing, setting a clear action plan, which we're doing now, that will include equity analysis and all the things that need to be done to ensure that our systems and the work we're doing is equitable, and accountability — holding ourselves and each other accountable as DEI leaders."

Here is the DEI executives' full statement:

Statement from the Recording Academy, Sony Music Group, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Executives

During one of the most difficult years imaginable in the world and in music, from racial injustice and social unrest to a public global health crisis, we are reminded of the unifying and healing power of music. As a group of recently appointed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leaders, we are proud to share that we have joined forces during a historic two-part meeting to build community, discuss the current landscape of DEI in music and align on a shared agenda. Together, we are committed to the work ahead and the partnership required to drive necessary and long overdue change in music for all underrepresented communities.

We stand in solidarity with #TheShowMustBePaused and the progress Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang have accomplished this year. We share the common goal of working to ensure that the companies we represent are doing the deep work to examine systemic racism and inequity, and are taking the necessary actions to accelerate progress on representation, equity and meaningful community engagement with and for Black people and communities.

A. Ryan Butler (Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Recording Academy)
Valeisha Butterfield Jones (Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Recording Academy)
Liliahn Majeed (SVP, Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Officer at Universal Music Group)
Naledi Nyahuma Seck (Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Universal Music Group)
Dr. Maurice Stinnett (Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Warner Music Group)
Tiffany R. Warren (EVP, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Sony Music Group)